Food & Drink

The Dreidel Drinking Game

After all the Hanukkah presents are exchanged and everyone is stuffed with brisket and latkes, it’s time to break out the dreidel. It’s the perfect activity for relaxing and digesting—especially paired with a great digestif. Combine your holiday drinking with your Hanukkah gaming by turning dreidel into a drinking game (you can still have the chocolate gelt on the side).

Like dice or poker, dreidel is centered around a pot, which players add to and take from. While the pot is typically filled with gelt, the boozy version of the game replaces the chocolate pile with a king’s cup-style center drink. It’s best if all players use the same drink or similar drinks in order to avoid having to sip a mix of your Daiquiri and Aunt Margaret’s Manhattan. You’ll also want to play with people with whom you’re comfortable sharing a glass, as you’ll all be sharing the center cup.

Start each round by refilling cocktails and adding a small amount of a beverage—about half an ounce—into the pot cup. Then spin the dreidel and drink according to the rules below. If you need a drinking song to go along with your gaming, just sing this modified version of “The Dreidel Song.”

I have a great Martini
I made it out of gin
And when it’s dry and ready
The dreidel I shall spin
 

Shin: Pour Some in

Rolling shin means “put one in,” which, in this case, means pouring a bit of your drink into the center cup. This is an opportunity for a bit of strategy. You could just pour in a little to be nice to those players after you. Or you could pour in a lot to make a large center cup—but remember, that same cup might come back around to you.

Hey: Drink Half the Pot

Hey means “take half” in the classic game of dreidel, so drink half the pot. If the round has just started and there’s only the half ounce ante in the center cup, go ahead and skip this one. If someone has gotten shin and made the cup more substantial, take a size-appropriate sip.

Gimmel: Drink the Whole Pot

In the traditional version of dreidel, gimmel signals the ultimate win. The victorious spinner takes the whole pot of gelt. In our version of the game, landing on gimmel means a player must imbibe the contents of the center cup, whatever they may be. If the round has just begun, this will be a small shot. If a few players have spun shin, the center cup will hold a delicious communal cocktail (or a mysterious concoction, if everyone has different drinks).

Nun: Nothing

No drink for you, which is either good or bad news, depending on how deep you are into the game.

And so on, and so forth

Play until everyone is sufficiently filled with holiday cheer and the Hanukkah candles burn down low. Then remember that you’ve got seven more nights of this and rejoice.